|7 1/2 Week Embryo|
Endowment for Human Development
|3 months Old Fetus, Endowment for Human Development|
“We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows
"Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being." Catholic Catechism, 2258
This post is in response to comments on "The Banality of Evil, Redux" reposted on Matt Briggs' blog . The commentators attempted to justify abortion by denying the humanity of an embryo or fetus using the following arguments:
- A fetus is not human until it totally emerges from the birth canal (a presumed justification for partial-birth abortion);
- Before some arbitrary time mark, say 24 weeks after conception, it is permissible to abort a fetus;
- Since self-awareness is a prime criterion for being human, it is permissible to abort an embryo or fetus before it is self-aware.
PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION IS IRRATIONAL
"The baby is born when the baby is outside the mother’s body"Senator Santorum tried to get her to be more specific:
"But, again, what you are suggesting is if the baby’s toe is inside the mother, you can, in fact, kill that baby."
TIME LIMITS TO ALLOW ABORTION ARE ARBITRARY
In many states an arbitrary time after conception is set for abortions to be allowed: before that time abortion is legal; afterwards, not. Most recently the Ohio State Legislature passed a 20 week abortion limit. Some interesting questions occur, naive though they may be. First, how do you determine (without drastic invasions of privacy) when conception occurs? Drawing a curtain over that issue, we can ask if a fetus at 19 weeks, 6 days, 23 hours, and 59 minutes after conception is non-human, i.e. legally eligible for abortion, and a fetus 20 weeks, and one minute after conception is human, not to be aborted. I should hope it's clear that any time marker to legalize abortion is arbitrary, without any rational basis.
THERE IS NO SHARP POINT AT WHICH A HUMAN IS SELF-AWARE
With respect to self-awareness in infants, it does not suddenly occur when the baby emerges from the birth canal. Studies by an Emory University psychologist, Phillipe Rochat, suggest that there are five levels of self-awareness from infancy to early childhood. Rochat asserts that even immediately after birth, babies have passed beyond the initial stage (total confusion):
"It appears that immediately after birth, infants are capable of demonstrating already a sense of their own body as a differentiated entity: an entity among other entities in the environment (Level 1)." Phillipe Rochat, Five levels of self-awareness as they unfold early in lifeAnd if this awareness is present immediately after birth, should it not also be present before birth? And if the development of consciousness is a continuous process, when is it that not one smidgeon of self-awareness is present? Remember, the brain is present as a partially developed organ some 5 weeks after conception.
ALLOWING ABORTION HAS WIDER MORAL CONSEQUENCES
"The Nazis did not regard Jews as humans, nor, evidently, do Planned Parenthood doctors regard unborn babies as human."Once it is admitted that a person "no matter how small" can be classified as non-human, then there are no limits:
"Assuming as a principle that humans can be selectively classified as unworthy of life—as elderly, as disabled, as unborn, as ethnically impure, as mentally challenged–violates that which is, or should be, written in the conscience of every man."Since Roe vs Wade there has been a decline in sexual morality, a rise in fatherless families and, generally, all that contributes to bad times. Whether there is a causal relation as some contend can be debated. (See The Myth about Abortion and Crime and Does Abortion Really Reduce Crime.) So where does that leave us? That only evil can come from abortion.